Hey all, never made a TL before, hope this goes over decently enough. Obviously, don't consider any of the statements in the extracts here to neccessarily be similar to my actual political beliefs. Also forgive me by moving quickly through WW2 since I want to focus much more on the Cold War and the effects on the Middle East. Hope you have some interest in reading: The Footprint of Mussolini The New Roman Empire – by David Lassinger 14th July 1932 It was a day that would determine the lives of millions. Because of what happened that day, millions would live who would otherwise have died, and millions would die who would otherwise have lived. It would determine Italy’s trajectory for the whole rest of the century, and with it the whole of the Middle East, Africa and the Eastern Bloc. Mussolini had concluded another one of his fiery speeches to the faithful in Milan. He had never considered himself too concerned with the Jewish question and didn’t think much of it. He was vaguely aware of a certain Austrian attempting to become the President of Germany who was had quite pronounced opinions to say the least. However, at the time, he took little emotional interest. For the moment, he was more interested in his relations with the newly formed Vatican state and his moves in the Balkans and Africa. Once the speech concluded, he was escorted around the back of the stage. On all sides were the Blackshirts, specifically the more aesthetic ones to give a positive impression of the Fascist movement at large – not that anyone was in the mood to fight back against a Totalitarian Dictatorship unless their backs were totally to the wall. For the moment, at least, the Fascists were quite popular with the population. That was, of course, with the exception of Roberto Giovana. He was a 22-year-old Communist who had managed to procure a firearm. By sheer luck, he was able to weave through the security and get close enough to his target. By the time he got close enough, he made a dash and leaped in front of Mussolini. The dictator would recall ‘I was as certain of the inevitability of my death as I certain I am here right now.’ Giovana fired the pistol … but the bullet never reached the dictator. A Blackshirt had flung himself in front of his leader, his Duce. The bullet struck him in the chest – as would the second. Giovana would never fire a third, as he was wrestled to the ground and dragged off. He was killed in transit to prison. Officially, he was resisting arrest, although documentation has shown since that he was beaten to death while already incapacitated. Mussolini was awestruck by the proceedings, ignoring the commotion around Giovana and kneeling beside the Blackshirt. “You’ve saved me. What is your name?” Mussolini asked. “I-Isaac Carpi,” said the Blackshirt as his skin paled and his voice quivered. “Someone get a doctor!” called out a voice at the back. “Someone get a Priest!” called a more sardonic voice closer to the front. At that, Isaac seemed to laugh and regain strength for a moment. “Sorry, but no Priest – I’m a Jew. Duce? Are you safe?” “I’m safe,” said Mussolini, standing especially erect and mighty to make up for the shock to his system just moments ago. “Then we are safe,” said Carpi, as he dropped his head a final time. For the rest of his days, Mussolini would always note that ‘we’. Though he was a Jew, he put his life on the line for the Leader of Italy, and of course, Mussolini was Italy - at least in his own mind. That Jew had died so Italy could live. It left an indelible impression on the Dictator’s mind that would never leave. Carpi would be praised as a model Italian citizen and Fascist for the rest of the Fascist era, even getting a biography made of him in 1958. But that wasn’t the main influence Carpi left behind. Not since Gavrilo Princip, perhaps, has one simple man changed the fate of so many millions. Extract from Mussolini’s speech to the Knesset in Jerusalem, 1949 “I knew at that moment that the Jews of Italy had the same love of their country as the Italians had of their own. I decided at that moment that I would never forget what that Jew had done for me – and to let it follow me for the rest of my life. Destiny had determined that I would never side with Hitler. The Jews and Italians would never bow to Nazism, just as they would never bow to Communism!” Total: Fascist Terror in Italy by Sven Dietrich The notion of Mussolini as the proud, eternal resistor to Nazism that both Italian and occasionally Israeli media like to promote is at total odds with reality, even if we were to ignore the nature of his invasions of Abyssinia and Albania before the War. Mussolini was not the ‘benevolent dictator’ some characterise him to be – he was a ruthless, self-described Totalitarian who did nothing to stop the break-up of the Stessa Accord, allowed Hitler’s annexation of Austria and allowed himself to be so angered by the West’s refusal to let him eat Abyssinia whole that he decided to go neutral during the War. His policy of total neutrality with respect to the Dual Pact  in the first years of the War should never be forgotten. If he had joined the Allies right at the start, we wouldn’t be talking about all the Jews he saved, because there would be no dead Jews because there wouldn’t have been a Second World War. What did he do instead? He used the conflagration in Europe to begin his own wars of conquest, beginning with the plump prey of Yugoslavia. The Making of Fascist Bloc by Jodie Rutkins When France fell, the old ‘Little Entente’ alliance had by now totally fallen apart. Yugoslavia was completely at the mercy of the surrounding powers, all of whom had irredentist claims against the peaceful Kingdom. Italy had long desired the regions of Yugoslavia they felt they had been cheated out of since Versailles, specifically Dalmatia, Fiume and others. Added to their recent conquest of Albania, the Italians looked upon the meat of Yugoslavia with an almost insane lust. Indeed, the Kingdom had plenty of divisions that could easily be exploited – and were. But first, Mussolini looked for allies to share the burden. Satisfied that his choice to stay out of the War was working out, and convinced Britain wouldn’t complain, let alone resist his plans in the Balkans, he began enlisting allies. To the east, he courted Hungary, still sore after the brutal Treaty of Trianon, which had ripped off territory with no respect to the wishes of the inhabitants. Hungary woke up with half their population. The territory of Vojvodina was high on the list of territories the beleaguered state wanted ack under control. Just south was Bulgaria, likewise burned after siding with the Central Powers in World War One. Looking for easy victory, Tsar Boris the Third likewise decided to listen to the Italian offers of land for cheap. Next, Mussolini had to create a Causus Belli. In late July, as the Battle of Britain raged, Mussolini began financing anti-Serb riots in major Croatian cities, demanding Croatian independence. These were led by the Ustache political organisation, a notoriously violent ultranationalist organisation under Ante Pavelić. Naturally, Yugoslavia had little choice but to put down the insurrections in Zagreb, which resulted in full-scale riots across the region. Croatian nationalist sympathies were inflamed as Mussolini easily exploited the ethnic divisions within Yugoslavia to his advantage. After demanding Yugoslavian forces comply with ‘the national desires of the Croatian people’ on September 10th, the Yugoslavs turned down the offer. Three days later, Belgrade was bombed. Just like Spain, the bombing was indiscriminate, brutal and effective. The same day, forces under Rodolfo Graziani, the committed Fascist, began pouring into Slovenia, as the Regina Marina began shelling the Yugoslav fleet up and down the Adriatic. Italo Balbo would likewise command his own army in Albania, moving into Kosovo. However, after the initial shock, the Yugoslavians managed to find their feet somewhat, managing to hold Graziani just outside of Ljubljana and recapturing Dubrovnik after having it fall to Ustache insurgency. Hopes of salvation were finished, however, when Hungary and Bulgaria began their invasion on October 1st. Within days of Bulgaria’s entrance into the War, which would become known as the Third Balkan War, their forces met Balbo’s in Priština. The next day, Macedonia’s representatives within that part of the Federation announced their independent surrender. From there, all hope was lost. The lines broke in Slovenia, and on October 23rd, Italian tanks were met with cheers through the center of Zagreb, with Pavelić declaring the formation of an independent Croatia. The Yugoslavian government offered a peace deal, giving independence to all the outer countries but leaving Serbia (as well as Kosovo) as part of a core Yugoslavia. The terms were rejected in Rome, Budapest and Sofia, demanding unconditional surrender. To this, Yugoslavia could only vainly resist. The Battle of Belgrade would be fought from November 4th to November 20th, with the Hungarians and Italians attacking from both sides. Croatian Ustache volunteers did half of the work for the Italians, who were, as one Hungarian witness described, “like unleashing those who would torment the Devil in Hell.” War crimes committed by the Ustache were so common that Italian commanders stopped trying to reign them in, deducing that it was like, as Balbo put it, “trying to catch a plane by running.” By the time the fighting was over, Belgrade was in ruins, and by now the situation was impossible. The government signed its surrender on November 23rd, leaving the Royal Family exiled and the spoils divided. Hungary received Vojvodina while Bulgaria received Macedonia and Bulgarian speaking regions in the Serbian territories. Italy swallowed Slovenia, Istria and large parts of Dalmatia, also incorporating Montenegro and Kosovo into her Albanian conquest. This left a Croatian state which incorporated Bosnia under he ruthless rule of Pavelić, who began a ruthless crusade of expulsions of the Serb residents, reaching half a million. This created a broken, crippled Serbia swamped by refugees and left for dead. It was cruel, it was brutal and it was the beginning of the Fascist Bloc.  - The name the Axis get ITTL as Mussolini never makes his famous declaration.